Former Democratic California State Sen. Ron Calderon has been sentenced to 3½ years in federal prison after pleading guilty to accepting tens of thousands of dollars in bribes in exchange for performing official acts as a legislator – including $60,000 in bribes from undercover FBI agents posing as independent filmmakers who wanted changes to California’s film incentives program.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, Calderon agreed to support an expansion of a state law that gave tax credits to studios that produced independent films in California. The Film Tax Credit applied to productions of at least $1 million, but, in exchange for bribes, Calderon agreed to support new legislation to reduce this threshold to $750,000.
The bribes included $3,000 monthly payments to his daughter for services she never provided; a $5,000 payment towards his son’s college tuition; and a $25,000 payment Californians for Diversity, a nonprofit entity that Calderon and his brother, former state Assemblyman Thomas Calderon, used to improperly pay themselves. Thomas Calderon has already been sentenced to a year in jail for laundering the money earmarked for his brother to be funneled through his firm.
Despite the bribes, the law was never changed.
“The Calderons are now being punished for their roles in a bribery scheme that involved multiple forms of payments, as well as the attempted concealment of the scheme through money laundering and lies made to residents of his district,” said U.S. Attorney Eileen Decker. “Politicians who violate their oaths by selling their offices will be discovered and will be prosecuted.”
“Mr. (Ron) Calderon used the power of the state Senate to dole out favors in exchange for bribe payments and a flashy lifestyle, rather than governing honestly for the people of California,” said Deirdre Fike, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office. “I’m proud of the agents and prosecutors who made this case a success using innovative techniques to uncover a variety of schemes and abject corruption by a state official.”